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Hashawha Hills 50K: Slip Slidin'

Slip slidin' away
Slip slidin' away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you're slip slidin' away

                      ~ Paul Simon

 This song was a fitting theme for the day

Why do I keep coming back to Hashawha Hills 50K?

It's a loop course, which is mentally tougher than a point to point course. It also means running the same route twice. There's several out and back sections that exist solely to provide the requisite mileage.

It's at a terrible time of the year, the last weekend in February. Everything is brown and dead.

The weather can be ugly (last year, race day featured crazy winds).

Depending on the temperature, the course features icy cambered hills or shoe-sucking mud and slop. This year, we got both!

The Start
Better than the forecasted freezing rain, we had misting rain for the first 15 miles.
All photos by Anstr Davidson

I almost bailed several times before race day. I had some good reasons:
  • The forecast of freezing rain
  • A birthday happy hour/dinner for two close friends the night before
  • The 4 a.m. wakeup to drive 90 miles to the start

Somehow, I propelled myself out the door to meet up with Team Gaylord, a boisterous bunch whom I dearly love. This gang makes any kind of hell seem like the most fun there is.

Thankfully the roads were not hazardous. The parking lot itself was literally a sheet of ice. I donned my YakTrax for the walk to the building where we gathered for the race briefing.

Starting the  Loop
Yours Truly and Beni running a brief paved road section of the course

And then the fun began. The course was frozen mud with lots of slick sections. Poor Beni went down in a cringe-inducing crash that would end her day after one loop.

We continued along at a cautious pace, warning each other about icy spots. Bob shouted what he considers encouragement at everyone we encountered on the out-and-backs. The rest of us pretended not to know him.

Mud at the Aid Station
It thawed a bit for the second half of the race . . .
There's a little of every kind of terrain here: Hills, none too steep or long but they just keep coming. Frozen, lumpy fields that threaten to turn your ankle. A few creek crossings, one wide and so cold it burned. Gravel road. A bit of paved road. Some sweet single-track trail in the woods. Pine needle-carpeted nirvana.

We completed loop one and recharged our supplies. As we trotted on our way, the winner arrived, obliterating the course record by 38 minutes. HOLY SH*T!

We hustled out of there. The mist had stopped, and the day was growing warmer. The frozen mud became squishy, shoe-sucking mud. The sweet, legendary Tom Green joined our merry band for a while. 

What did we talk about?
What didn't we talk about?

We talked about who was running what races next. We pontificated on the 24-hour run format. We complained enthusiastically about the ridiculous conditions, laughing and taunting each other. We somehow discussed fake dog testicles. Yes, they exist.

Team Gaylord
5 miles to go. There are no trail photos as Anstr was too smart to go out in that slop.

Why do I keep coming back to Hashawha Hills 50K?

This race for me is about friends, and our conversations.

It's about getting outside on a day when you'd normally cancel any planned outside activity and huddle in your warm, dry home with a hot mug of comfort.

It's about how lucky you feel when you realize it's a damned good day to run.

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